Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Newest Lego Set

By Sam

As you see, I have a very large Lego Vanagon here. I got it from Poppop for my birthday, my 11th birthday, which was on February 18th. Although it is a 16+ Lego set, I completed it in a matter of hours. And so, let the pictures commence! 
Here I am when I first got the Lego set.
And here I am looking at all the pieces - I felt excited and intimidated
I figured we better move downstairs, so my mom's helping me find the pieces right now
Here it is about 1/4 in the making
And here is the finished product, including pop top
Here we have the engine, which is not actually open to the elements, but it's got a door that you can't see very well in this picture
And here is a view through the double doors on the side
Here's a view of the driver's seat.  Those curtains are fabric, by the way
And that is my new Lego set!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Maryland Visit Highlights

We spent a lovely President's Day Weekend in Maryland celebrating Sam's birthday and Sasha's Gotcha Day and spending precious time with Steve after two whole months apart.  It was a truly blessed weekend, filled with moments of healing and deep conversation and just the joy of being together.

There were lots of sweet times, but I think that the best thing was seeing and experiencing with my own eyes the truth that I've been believing -  we can be normal again; we can do this family thing.

Things won't be the "same" - how could we emerge from a season like this unchanged? Heavens, I wouldn't want to go through something like this and come out unaffected.  I'm not the same person I was before motherhood, before marriage, before adoption, and I won't be the same person I was before this either.  What a waste of all that pain and and brokenness and perseverance and nervous trust that would be!
The simple truth is that we don't need things to be the same.  We need wholeness. We need healing.  We need continual forgiveness.  We need mercies that are new every morning.

And this weekend showed us precious glimmers that all these things are possible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Sam!

Oh my goodness, where does the time go?  My baby is 11!  And a very handsome eleven-year-old he is, indeed.

We had a nice little family party in Maryland celebrating the first Morningstar Tween with a movie (Arrietty - combining favorite childrens' literature and Miyazaki - perfect!), pizza, and ice cream cake.  It was quite the Sam-tastic day.
Happy birthday to Sam!  And thanks for the very attractive face, Ben.
Hoffman's ice cream cake - a family favorite
Sam was very excited about his birthday presents, including a very special Lego set (to be blogged about soon) and a signed Mythbusters photo
All WanYing needed for the perfect party was a balloon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day!

Our marvelous weekend with Daddy started with a very important celebration - Sasha's 3rd Gotcha Day Anniversary!  It's hard to believe that it's only been 3 years since our zesty and zany Sasha became a Morningstar and we all agreed that we are so glad that she is ours and we are hers!

As is our tradition, we celebrated Sasha's Gotcha Day with a family bowling party, but this year we gave the party some Maryland flare by going duckpin bowling!

If you haven't heard of duckpins, you're not alone - according to Wikipedia they really only exist in Maryland and Massachusetts and Rhode Island (who knew?).  Basically, it's like regular 10-pin bowling except that you use a little ball with no finger holes and smaller pins and you get 3 tries with each frame.

The kids had a marvelous time and Steve and I had our best duckpin scores ever (thank you, bumpers).  As you can see, Sasha's technique was (unsurprisingly) energetic - she really enjoyed bowling with a ball small enough for her to propel down the lane without a ramp.
WanYing opted for the ramp.
Sam had this very interesting technique of bowling the ball and then lunging with his hand on his knee to watch the ball progress down the lane.  Unorthodox?  Yes.  Humorous?  Definitely.  Effective?  Well, he ended up with the high score, so I guess that there's something to be said for his studious technique!
Ben was... energetic

My favorite part about the whole experience was keeping score on paper.  My goodness, I haven't kept track of a bowling score for myself in many years!  It Steve and me a few frames to remember how to score duckpins, but eventually we remembered the highlights from our reciprocal high school bowling classes.  Ben and Sam found "old time" bowling intriguing but commented that they prefer "modern" bowling.

WanYing also insisted on keeping score for herself.
Can you believe they make bowling shoes so tiny?!?  Adorable!

We had a lovely afternoon celebrating Sasha's Gotcha Day and look forward to many more years of circle-of-bowling-shoes photos.  Because if there's any better way to celebrate an important family day than bowling, well, I haven't yet found it.

Monday, February 20, 2012


This weekend was infused with grace and healing. The most poignant lesson for me isn't a new one, but has taken on extraordinary new meaning in the past days. I heard it from the pulpit, from friends who prayed with us, from my readings - here's how Madeline L'Engle captures it:
One of the bits of dogma that used to concern me was that Jesus was exactly like us - except he's sinless.  Well, of course if he's sinless he's not exactly like us; he's not like us at all.  And then I arrived at a totally different definition of sin.  Sin is not child abuse or rape or murder, terrible as though these may be.  Sin is separation from God, and Jesus was never separate from the Source.  Of course, if we were close to our Source; if we were not separated from God, it would be impossible for us to commit child abuse or rape or murder.  But when we are separated from God, that sin makes all sins possible.
Madeline L'Engle from Sold into Egypt
It is not "hard" for God to forgive Steve.  Steve's sin is no harder for God to forgive than is my own than is yours.  The effects of his actions may be more stark and complicated and heartwrenching in the here and now, but they represent no more of a wedge between him and God than my hardness of heart for my children this morning as I desperately wanted just a few more minutes of sleep. 

We are, none of us, unforgivable.  And for those of us in Christ, we are, none of us, unforgiven.

And that is the gloriously impossible Gospel.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celebrating Sam

This weekend we (gulp!) celebrated Sam's 11th birthday with an informal gathering of friends. This was the first year when Sam planned pretty much the whole party himself, so there were no streamers or balloons, lots of sugar and salt, and tons of video games!

The snack spread when boys plan the party.
The snack spread that the girls (Miss Justine) were in charge of. For the record, our part is classier than giant marshmallows and Doritos
The boys dig in!
WanYing was more than happy with a lunch of chips and marshmallows
11-year-olds light their own candles
Well, at least Ben is still excited about a birthday party!
Nerf guns and Xbox were recurring themes

I'll relish in the fact that Sam's 10 for a few more days - I am not ready to have an 11-year-old! But I have to admit, he throws a pretty good party :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Love Looks Like

In case you're wondering what love looks like, this is a pretty good picture.  Thanks to all of you for the continuous stream of (stamped) hugs.

Here's my current favorite hug delivered to my mailbox:
I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
Psalm 31:7

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Celebrating YingYing

We had a wonderful day celebrating WanYing's first birthday home and her three marvelous years.  WanYing was a little mystified by parts of the celebration, but after almost a year as a Morningstar she's learned to roll with whatever happens... especially if gifts and cupcakes are involved.
So, all of these are for me?
Let's get opening!
The girl loves her puzzles
Photos look so much better when taken with a princess camera!
First photos - this one is of Sasha up close and personal, including requisite princess frame
Taking the new bike for a spin, with big brother's help
Looking lovely in Aunt Sarah's new outfit, WanYing is all ready for her birthday party
Sasha also got dolled up for the occasion - here she is helping Miss Laura decorate
Pizza time!
She knew just what to do when Happy Birthday was over and blew out all three candles in a single puff
WanYing didn't actually eat any cupcakes, but she liked the icing off of three.  Thanks for treating us to such beautiful confections, Miss Justine!

Happy birthday, baby.

On this special day and every day, we pray that you would know that
The Lord your God is with you,
   he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
   he will quiet you with his love,
   he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17


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